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Tory MPs Vent Frustration Over Commons Vote Chaos in Leaked WhatsApps

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Conservative MPs express frustration with Prime Minister's senior staff following a parliamentary vote, according to leaked WhatsApp messages. Today, there's significant anger among Conservative MPs, the majority of whom were defeated in a vote aiming to ban any MP arrested for a serious offence from the parliamentary grounds, aligning Westminster with common workplace policies.

Assistant Political Editor @SamCoatesSky

Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 4:

Leaked WhatsApp messages obtained by Sky News have exposed the frustration and despair that Tory MPs harbor towards Rishi Sunak's senior team.

One lawmaker described the parliamentary proceedings as a "disaster" and "insane," while another expressed being "perplexed" by the management of a critical Monday night vote concerning the exclusion of MPs arrested under suspicion of severe sexual or violent crimes.

These remarks reflect statements that Conservative MPs have shared confidentially with Sky News.

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Today, there is considerable anger among Conservative MPs following a vote where the majority were defeated. The vote was on a motion, introduced by the Liberal Democrats and Labour, which proposed banning any MP arrested for a serious offence from the parliamentary grounds, aligning Westminster's policies with those of numerous other workplaces.

Most Conservative MPs supported an alternative proposal – to only suspend Members of Parliament when they are formally charged, contending that MPs are susceptible to being unjustly accused.

The vote was unwhipped, allowing Members of Parliament to cast their votes independently of party directives.

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In a surprising turn of events that left Conservative MPs perplexed, the vote to counter the opposition's motion could not proceed in the Commons because Tory whips failed to assign "tellers" — individuals responsible for counting votes. As a result, the opposition motion was adopted by default.

This typically occurs due to lack of coordination or misunderstandings about the proceedings in the chamber, frequently signifying shortcomings within the offices of the Tory whips or the Commons leader, both of whom are appointees of Mr. Sunak.

The WhatsApp messages reveal that a government minister, Anne Marie Trevelyan, urgently called on Conservative MPs following an initial defeat by the Liberal Democrats: "All Tories on the premises who missed voting on amendment O need to come back immediately! We lost the amendment by one vote. If not, the next step is detention, not just charges."

Additional Conservative MPs, Jill Mortimer and Jack Brereton, also support the call to reject the Liberal Democrat motion, joined by Minister Greg Hands.

Brendan Clarke-Smith has labeled the Liberal Democrats' proposal to ban MPs from parliament upon arrest as "an assault on fundamental civil rights."

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In a surprising turn of events, MP Anthony Browne of Cambridgeshire declared just three minutes later: "Division off!"

Pauline Latham expressed astonishment and urgently sought explanations, remarking, "This is crazy."

Miriam Cates expressed confusion to her fellow lawmakers about the absence of tellers, while Angela Richardson described the situation as "what a shitshow!" Andrea Leadsom remarked, "A sad day." Ms. Cates voiced her frustration, saying, "I am completely at a loss to understand why those of us who shouted 'no' were not informed about the lack of tellers," pointing to issues with Mr. Sunak's handling of parliamentary procedures.

Mr. Clarke-Smith remarked, "Angela had better ensure her interview is successful. That's just astounding." He was alluding to Angela Rayner, who finds herself the subject of a police investigation and might soon be interviewed under caution. Rayner has refuted all claims against her and remains unarrested. Labour has asserted that an arrest is not anticipated; however, even in such an event, exclusion wouldn't occur as the grounds for arrest would probably not meet the criteria of a grave offense.

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The conversation ends with Mr. Brereton remarking, "Now we'll all be barred from the property…" and Ms. Cates responding, "Expect a surge of spiteful complaints…"

A Conservative Party member described the atmosphere within the party as having an "end of days vibe," indicating a sense of collapse, as the party whips appeared unable to manage straightforward voting processes.

They also refer to it as a "disaster".

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